Finding the Right Color Mix. A Case Study.


Case Study: Atlas Paint & Wallpaper

Ross K. Greenberg, IALD, LC, LEED AP O&M


Have you ever gone into a paint store and found the perfect color sample and said… WOW I just loved this color and bought gallons of that paint only to find out that once you painted your walls at home that the color is “nowhere” close to what you saw in the store?  Or bought wallpaper and thought it would look amazing in your house, only to find out that after you installed it that it doesn’t look the same as when you saw it in the store?

Well, there is a reason for that, and it is a very common problem amongst homeowners and the paint and wallpaper industry as well as with any retailer that sells furniture, clothing, cars, and any other product that is color driven.  The lighting in the retailer where you made your purchase has different lighting than what you have at your home or business. Typically, the retailer has a much colder color temperature than the warmer color temperatures that you have at your home or office, so when you pick out something at the store you are seeing that color of the fabric or paint under a different light than what you have at home so therefore it will look completely different than what you wanted or expected.  Retailers have struggled with this scenario for decades and know that this causes many consumers to return what they just purchased since it does not work for them, or in the case with Paint and wallpaper, the consumer now must buy a different product and install it all over again.

There is a bright (no pun intended) solution to this, and it is called “Color Mixing”.  Many lighting manufacturers have tried to overcome this but most fall short.  The most common color temperatures range from 3000K to 4000K+.  The 3000K chip pulls out the browns and reds, while the 4000K chip pulls the Blues, Silvers and Greys out. Most retailers say, let’s use a 3500k chip, since that is in the middle of the 3000K and 4000K but that does not work as it just neutralizes the colors instead of making their products pop and look like the true colors they are.

In addition to the color temperatures there is also the CRI (Color Rendering Index) which is the measurement of how colors look under a light source when compared with sunlight. The index is measured from 0-100, with a perfect 100 indicating that colors under the light source appear the same as they would under natural sunlight.  This rating is also a measurement in the lighting industry to help discern naturalness, hue discrimination, vividness, preference, color naming accuracy, and color harmony.  Lights with a CRI that is measured greater than 80 are considered to be more than acceptable for most applications.

Lights with a CRI that is measured 90 or greater are generally considered “High CRI” lights. Most lighting is rated at 80+ CRI and that is the typical “Go To” for retailers, while the 90 CRI shows all colors much better and very close to the true color of the products that consumers are picking out.

ZLEDLighting recently had the opportunity to design a retrofit lighting system to be installed at a retailer named “Atlas Paint and Wallpaper.  Their challenge was the same as every other retailer; How can they have their products look true to color in their showroom?  The timing was perfect as ZLEDLighting was already working on a special color temp LED retrofit board to add to its Magnilumen product line.  Knowing that 3000K is too warm, 4000K is too cold and 3500K does not work, ZLEDLighting produced a new Magnilumen called Magniblend.

LED board with both the 3000K and 4000K chips installed in a every other color temperature pattern and with a CRI of 90.  Testing this board over wallpaper and paint chips proved to be a success as it brought out the Blue’s, Silver’s, Grey’s, Red’s and Brown’s in each product sample and showed the true colors of the products. Once installed in Atlas’s showroom, the entire area and its products looked completely different, and the displayed products look true to color.

To learn more about this product and how ZLEDLighting and Magnilumen can help you utilize this technology in your space please call us at 800-679-9243 or visit us on our website at  Our lighting specialists are available at any time to answer any questions you might have.


Magniblend (Magnilumen series
color mix & high CRI LED


High CRI full spectrum and proper color mixed lighting can dramatically improve the appearance of objects, particularly in retail stores, shops, super-markets, museums, galleries and exhibits where red colors are prominent, and presentation and appearance are critical. High CRI LED Lighting also has other applications in areas such as hospitals or textile industries where color differentiation is crucial in work performance. Mixed Color LEDs & High CRI LEDs are ideal in locations where savings in energy consumption are desired, yet quality of light must be maintained.


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